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API doc generator.

Project description

This is pydoctor, an API documentation generator that works by static analysis.

It was written primarily to replace epydoc for the purposes of the Twisted project as epydoc has difficulties with zope.interface. If you are looking for a successor to epydoc after moving to Python 3, pydoctor might be the right tool for your project as well.

pydoctor puts a fair bit of effort into resolving imports and computing inheritance hierarchies and, as it aims at documenting Twisted, knows about zope.interface’s declaration API and can present information about which classes implement which interface, and vice versa.

Simple Usage

You can run pydoctor on your project like this:

$ pydoctor --make-html --html-output=docs/api src/mylib

For more info, Read The Docs.


pydoctor currently supports the following markup languages in docstrings:

epytext (default)

The markup language of epydoc. Simple and compact.


The markup language used by Sphinx. More expressive than epytext, but also slightly more complex and verbose.


Docstrings formatted as specified by the Google Python Style Guide. (compatible with reStructuredText markup)


Docstrings formatted as specified by the Numpy Docstring Standard. (compatible with reStructuredText markup)


Text without any markup.

You can select a different format using the --docformat option or the __docformat__ module variable.

What’s New?

pydoctor 24.3.3

  • Fix release pipeline.

pydoctor 24.3.0

This is the last major release to support Python 3.7.

  • Drop support for Python 3.6.

  • Add support for Python 3.12.

  • Astor is no longer a requirement starting at Python 3.9.

  • ExtRegistrar.register_post_processor() now supports a priority argument that is an int. Highest priority callables will be called first during post-processing.

  • Fix too noisy --verbose mode (suppres some ambiguous annotations warnings).

  • Fix type processing inside restructuredtext consolidated fields.

  • Add options --cls-member-order and --mod-member-order to customize the presentation order of class members and module/package members, the supported values are “alphabetical” or “source”. The default behavior is to sort all members alphabetically.

  • Make sure the line number coming from ast analysis has precedence over the line of a ivar field.

  • Ensure that all docutils generated css classes have the rst- prefix, the base theme have been updated accordingly.

  • Fix compatibility issue with docutils 0.21.x

  • Transform annotations to use python 3.10 style: typing.Union[x, y] -> x | y; typing.Optional[x] -> x | None; typing.List[x] -> list[x].

  • Do not output useless parenthesis when colourizing subscripts.

pydoctor 23.9.1

  • Fix regression in link not found warnings’ line numbers.

pydoctor 23.9.0

This is the last major release to support Python 3.6.

  • Do not show **kwargs when keywords are specifically documented with the keyword field and no specific documentation is given for the **kwargs entry.

  • Fix annotation resolution edge cases: names are resolved in the context of the module scope when possible, when impossible, the theoretical runtime scopes are used. A warning can be reported when an annotation name is ambiguous (can be resolved to different names depending on the scope context) with option -v.

  • Ensure that explicit annotation are honored when there are multiple declarations of the same name.

  • Use stricter verification before marking an attribute as constant:
    • instance variables are never marked as constant

    • a variable that has several definitions will not be marked as constant

    • a variable declaration under any kind of control flow block will not be marked as constant

  • Do not trigger warnings when pydoctor cannot make sense of a potential constant attribute (pydoctor is not a static checker).

  • Fix presentation of type aliases in string form.

  • Improve the AST colorizer to output less parenthesis when it’s not required.

  • Fix colorization of dictionary unpacking.

  • Improve the class hierarchy such that it links top level names with intersphinx when possible.

  • Add highlighting when clicking on “View In Hierarchy” link from class page.

  • Recognize variadic generics type variables (PEP 646).

  • Fix support for introspection of cython3 generated modules.

  • Instance variables are marked as such across subclasses.

pydoctor 23.4.1

  • Pin urllib3 version to keep compatibility with cachecontrol and python3.6.

pydoctor 23.4.0

  • Add support for Python 3.11

  • Add support for the @overload decorator.

  • Show type annotations in function’s signatures.

  • If none of a function’s parameters have documentation, do not render the parameter table.

  • Themes have been adjusted to render annotations more concisely.

  • Fix a rare crash in the type inference. Invalid python code like a set of lists would raise a uncaught TypeError in the evaluation.

  • Support when source path lies outside base directory (--project-base-dir). Since pydoctor support generating docs for multiple packages, it is not certain that all of the source is even viewable below a single URL. We now allow to add arbitrary paths to the system, but only the objects inside a module wich path is relative to the base directory can have a source control link generated.

  • Cache the default docutils settings on docutils>=0.19 to improve performance.

  • Improve the search bar user experience by automatically appending wildcard to each query terms when no terms already contain a wildcard.

  • Link recognized constructors in class page.

  • An invalid epytext docstring will be rederered as plaintext, just like invalid restructuredtext docstrings (finally).

pydoctor 22.9.1

  • pydoctor --help works again.

pydoctor 22.9.0

  • Add a special kind for exceptions (before, they were treated just like any other class).

  • The ZopeInterface features now renders again. A regression was introduced in pydoctor 22.7.0.

  • Python syntax errors are now logged as violations.

  • Fixed rare crash in the rendering of parsed elements (i.e. docstrings and ASTs). This is because XHTML entities like non-breaking spaces are not supported by Twisted’s XMLString at the moment.

  • Show the value of type aliases and type variables.

  • The --prepend-package now work as documented. A regression was introduced in pydoctor 22.7.0 and it was not nesting new packages under the “fake” package.

  • self parameter is now removed only when the target is a method. In the previous version, it was always removed in any context.

  • cls parameter is now removed only when the target is a class method. In the previous version, it was always removed in any context.

  • Add anchors aside attributes and functions to ease the process of sharing links to these API docs.

  • Fix a bug in the return clause of google-style docstrings where the return type would be treated as the description when there is no explicit description.

  • Trigger warnings for unknown config options.

  • Fix minor UX issues in the search bar.

  • Fix deprecation in Docutils 0.19 frontend

pydoctor 22.7.0

  • Add support for generics in class hierarchies.

  • Fix long standing bugs in Class method resolution order.

  • Improve the extensibility of pydoctor (more infos on extensions)

  • Fix line numbers in reStructuredText xref warnings.

  • Add support for twisted.python.deprecated (this was originally part of Twisted’s customizations).

  • Add support for re-exporting it names imported from a wildcard import.

pydoctor 22.5.1

  • docutils>=0.17 is now the minimum supported version. This was done to fix crashing with AttributeError when processing type fields.

pydoctor 22.5.0

  • Add Read The Docs theme, enable it with option --theme=readthedocs.

  • Add a sidebar. Configure it with options --sidebar-expand-depth and --sidebar-toc-depth. Disable with --no-sidebar.

  • Highlight the active function or attribute.

  • Packages and modules are now listed together.

  • Docstring summaries are now generated from docutils nodes:

    • fixes a bug in restructuredtext references in summary.

    • still display summary when the first paragraph is long instead of “No summary”.

  • The module index now uses a more compact presentation for modules with more than 50 submodules and no subsubmodules.

  • Fix source links for code hosted on Bitbucket or SourceForge.

  • The --html-viewsource-template option was added to allow for custom URL scheme when linking to the source code pages and lines.

pydoctor 22.4.0

  • Add option --privacy to set the privacy of specific objects when default rules doesn’t fit the use case.

  • Option --docformat=plaintext overrides any assignments to __docformat__ module variable in order to focus on potential python code parsing errors.

  • Switch to configargparse to handle argument and configuration file parsing (more infos).

  • Improved performances with caching of docstring summaries.

pydoctor 22.3.0

  • Add client side search system based on lunr.js.

  • Fix broken links in docstring summaries.

  • Add cache for the xref linker, reduces the number of identical warnings.

  • Fix crash when reparenting objects with duplicate names.

pydoctor 22.2.2

  • Fix resolving names re-exported in __all__ variable.

pydoctor 22.2.1

  • Fix crash of pydoctor when processing a reparented module.

pydoctor 22.2.0

  • Improve the name resolving algo such that it checks in super classes for inherited attributes.

  • C-modules wins over regular modules when there is a name clash.

  • Packages wins over modules when there is a name clash.

  • Fixed that modules were processed in a random order leading to several hard to reproduce bugs.

  • Intersphinx links have now dedicated markup. With the default theme, this allows to have the external intershinx links blue while the internal links are red.

  • Smarter line wrapping in summary and parameters tables.

  • Any code inside of if __name__ == '__main__' is now excluded from the documentation.

  • Fix variables named like the current module not being documented.

  • The Module Index now only shows module names instead of their full name. You can hover over a module link to see the full name.

  • If there is only a single root module, index.html now documents that module (previously it only linked the module page).

  • Fix introspection of functions comming from C-extensions.

  • Fix that the colorizer might make Twisted’s flatten function crash with surrogates unicode strings.

pydoctor 21.12.1

  • Include module within pydoctor.epydoc to avoid an extra PyPi dependency.

pydoctor 21.12.0

  • Add support for reStructuredText directives .. deprecated::, .. versionchanged:: and .. versionadded::.

  • Add syntax highlight for constant values, decorators and parameter defaults.

  • Embedded documentation links inside the value of constants, decorators and parameter defaults.

  • Provide option --pyval-repr-maxlines and --pyval-repr-linelen to control the size of a constant value representation.

  • Provide option --process-types to automatically link types in docstring fields (more info).

  • Forked Napoleon Sphinx extension to provide google-style and numpy-style docstring parsing.

  • Introduced fields warns, yields and yieldtype.

  • Following google style guide, *args and **kwargs are now rendered with asterisks in the parameters table.

  • Mark variables as constants when their names is all caps or if using Final annotation.

pydoctor 21.9.2

  • Fix AttributeError raised when parsing reStructuredText consolidated fields, caused by a change in docutils 0.18.

  • Fix DeprecationWarning, use newer APIs of importlib_resources module.

pydoctor 21.9.1

  • Fix deprecation warning and officially support Python 3.10.

  • Fix the literals style (use same style as before).

pydoctor 21.9.0

  • Add support for multiple themes, selectable with --theme option.

  • Support selecting a different docstring format for a module using the __docformat__ variable.

  • HTML templates are now customizable with --template-dir option.

  • Change the fields layout to display the arguments type right after their name. Same goes for variables.

pydoctor 21.2.2

  • Fix positioning of anchors, such that following a link to a member of a module or class will scroll its documentation to a visible spot at the top of the page.

pydoctor 21.2.1

  • Fix presentation of the project name and URL in the navigation bars, such that it works as expected on all generated HTML pages.

pydoctor 21.2.0

  • Removed the --html-write-function-pages option. As a replacement, you can use the generated Intersphinx inventory (objects.inv) for deep-linking your documentation.

  • Fixed project version in the generated Intersphinx inventory. This used to be hardcoded to 2.0 (we mistook it for a format version), now it is unversioned by default and a version can be specified using the new --project-version option.

  • Fixed multiple bugs in Python name resolution, which could lead to for example missing “implemented by” links.

  • Fixed bug where class docstring fields such as cvar and ivar are ignored when they override inherited attribute docstrings.

  • Property decorators containing one or more dots (such as @abc.abstractproperty) are now recognized by the custom properties support.

  • Improvements to attrs support:

    • Attributes are now marked as instance variables.

    • Type comments are given precedence over types inferred from attr.ib.

    • Support positional arguments in attr.ib definitions. Please use keyword arguments instead though, both for clarity and to be compatible with future attrs releases.

  • Improvements in the treatment of the __all__ module variable:

    • Assigning an empty sequence is interpreted as exporting nothing instead of being ignored.

    • Better error reporting when the value assigned is either invalid or pydoctor cannot make sense of it.

  • Added except field as a synonym of raises, to be compatible with epydoc and to fix handling of the :Exceptions: consolidated field in reStructuredText.

  • Exception types and external base classes are hyperlinked to their class documentation.

  • Formatting of def func(): and class Class: lines was made consistent with code blocks.

  • Changes to the “Show/hide Private API” button:

    • The button was moved to the right hand side of the navigation bar, to avoid overlapping the content on narrow displays.

    • The show/hide state is now synced with a query argument in the location bar. This way, if you bookmark the page or send a link to someone else, the show/hide state will be preserved.

    • A deep link to a private API item will now automatically enable “show private API” mode.

  • Improvements to the build_apidocs Sphinx extension:

    • API docs are now built before Sphinx docs, such that the rest of the documentation can link to it via Intersphinx.

    • New configuration variable pydoctor_url_path that will automatically update the intersphinx_mapping variable so that it uses the latest API inventory.

    • The extension can be configured to build API docs for more than one package.

  • pydoctor.__version__ is now a plain str instead of an incremental.Version object.

pydoctor 20.12.1

  • Reject source directories outside the project base directory (if given), instead of crashing.

  • Fixed bug where source directories containing symbolic links could appear to be outside of the project base directory, leading to a crash.

  • Bring back source link on package pages.

pydoctor 20.12.0

  • Python 3.6 or higher is required.

  • There is now a user manual that can be built with Sphinx or read online on Read the Docs. This is a work in progress and the online version will be updated between releases.

  • Added support for Python language features:

    • Type annotations of function parameters and return value are used when the docstring does not document a type.

    • Functions decorated with @property or any other decorator with a name ending in “property” are now formatted similar to variables.

    • Coroutine functions (async def) are included in the output.

    • Keyword-only and position-only parameters are included in the output.

  • Output improvements:

    • Type names in annotations are hyperlinked to the corresponding documentation.

    • Styling changes to make the generated documentation easier to read and navigate.

    • Private API is now hidden by default on the Module Index, Class Hierarchy and Index of Names pages.

    • The pydoctor version is included in the “generated by” line in the footer.

  • All parents of the HTML output directory are now created by pydoctor; previously it would create only the deepest directory.

  • The --add-package and --add-module options have been deprecated; pass the source paths as positional arguments instead.

  • New option -W/--warnings-as-errors to fail your build on documentation errors.

  • Linking to the standard library documentation is more accurate now, but does require the use of an Intersphinx inventory (--intersphinx=

  • Caching of Intersphinx inventories is now enabled by default.

  • Added a Sphinx extension for embedding pydoctor’s output in a project’s Sphinx documentation.

  • Added an extra named rst for the dependencies needed to process reStructuredText (pip install -U pydoctor[rst]).

  • Improved error reporting:

    • More accurate source locations (file + line number) in error messages.

    • Warnings were added for common mistakes when documenting parameters.

    • Clearer error message when a link target is not found.

  • Increased reliability:

    • Fixed crash when analyzing from package import *.

    • Fixed crash when the line number for a docstring error is unknown.

    • Better unit test coverage, more system tests, started adding type annotations to the code.

    • Unit tests are also run on Windows.

pydoctor 20.7.2

  • Fix handling of external links in reStructuredText under Python 3.

  • Fix reporting of errors in reStructuredText under Python 3.

  • Restore syntax highlighting of Python code blocks.

pydoctor 20.7.1

  • Fix cross-reference links to builtin types in standard library.

  • Fix and improve error message printed for unknown fields.

pydoctor 20.7.0

  • Python 3 support.

  • Type annotations on attributes are supported when running on Python 3.

  • Type comments on attributes are supported when running on Python 3.8+.

  • Type annotations on function definitions are not supported yet.

  • Undocumented attributes are now included in the output.

  • Attribute docstrings: a module, class or instance variable can be documented by a following it up with a docstring.

  • Improved error reporting: more errors are reported, error messages include file name and line number.

  • Dropped support for implicit relative imports.

  • Explicit relative imports (using from) no longer cause warnings.

  • Dropped support for index terms in epytext (X{}). This was never supported in any meaningful capacity, but now the tag is gone.

This was the last major release to support Python 2.7 and 3.5.

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